Archive for the ‘Critters’ Category
Have I introduced you to Red yet?
Red is Jasper’s littermate. How we came about him was this:
When we were out of town and had the cats boarding at the vet, Jasper developed a cough. The vet x-rayed his chest to make sure his lungs were clear and discovered that he had an enlarged heart. I took him to a veterinary cardiologist for a sonogram and she confirmed it.
Diagnosis: Possible early stage dilatative cardiomyopathy.
If you remember, Jasper came here to live after we lost Icey to a nasty battle with leukemia.
I called Jasper’s breeder and she was really upset about the diagnosis. Because of the cost we’d incurred with vet bills, and because she really liked the girls when we came to get Jasper, and because Red had a kink in his tail and couldn’t be a show cat, she wanted us to take him home with us. So we did, on a trial basis.
Red’s first few days at our house were not great. He was really freaked out and hid inside of the box spring about 23.75 hours of the day. But over time, he got happy (Feliway dispenser helped a lot) and now he’s a full-fledged member of the household. He plays fetch. A lot. And attacks my daughter’s pink poodle toy and carries it around the house, howling like a mighty warrior, and drops the nasty wet thing on my head while I sleep. Oh thanks. A gift.
Jasper still has an enlarged heart and we’ve started a beta blocker in the hopes that it will control or reverse it. Still not sure what this means in the long run, other than another cardiologist visit in six months. But he’s a happy boy who likes pats on the haunches and he pounces on people as they walk by the back of the armchairs in the living room. And for now, I’m just enjoying him.
This year our tamales were made with:
Lard we rendered ourselves,
Feral hog we killed and butchered ourselves,
And serranos we grew in the garden.
On another note, I was baking chocolate chip cookies earlier and was moving one of the loaded cooling racks around and one of its supports collapsed and ka-WHOOSH, there was a waterfall of hot, aromatic, butter-laden chocolate chip cookies pouring off the counter and right onto the dog.
For one brief, shining moment, the dog thought that it was the BEST NIGHT EVAR and his big brown eyes sparkled with a canine tear as he ducked his head to investigate the manna from heaven and I screamed, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! GO KENNEL!” and he realized that he probably did something very wrong to make the cookies happen and went to cower in his box as I burned my hands cleaning up Floor Cookies.
They only have a little hair on them.
Happy New Year, everyone!
Max lost his purr. He’s been one lonesome kittyman since Icey’s been gone. Stuck to me like glue, and gained a pound to boot. He’s just not happy being an only child – something similar happened happened when Maddie died.
So we got Max a kitten. Meet Jasper.
He’s a red spotted tabby Oriental shorthair, 14 weeks old. As soon as I brought him into the house and opened the carrier, he and Max started purring at each other, then Max started grooming him.
Jasper brought an upper respiratory infection over with him, so the two of them are a bit under the weather at the moment, but they’re still pretty happy. As you can imagine, the kids are thrilled to pieces to have a kitten. He’s pretty cute. 🙂
Icey took a turn for the worse on Monday night, and by yesterday she was in bad shape. I made the difficult decision to put her to sleep. She laid in my arms and purred until she was gone.
I brought her home so we could bury her in the back with all the other kitties. Hub laid her on the floor and unwrapped the towel. The girls gave her a last pet. Kona nosed at her for a minute, like she was confused that her kitty buddy wasn’t getting up. Max was very skittish for a long time, but eventually he came over to see her, too. He sat next to her and groomed her, like a family member bathing their loved one in preparation for the grave. We put some pipe cleaner toys in the box with her, and the girls put in some cards they made saying how much they loved her.
We laid her to rest in the back yard. My daughter read Rainbow Bridge, because I couldn’t.
Farewell, sweet Icey, 2004-2009.
Icey wasn’t looking quite as pink and plucky this week, so we took her in for a blood check.
I haven’t updated with the previous news, which was that her red blood cell count was up in the 30s and the vet was very pleased with her progress. I thought that I might jinx it by putting the words here. Maybe I should have anyway.
Her red blood count was down a little bit, to 28. Not too bad. Her white count was high though – the vet wanted to send the blood sample to the lab. She called back the next day. “I have terrible news,” she said, and the world sank. Icey has acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Her white count was 150,000 – 130,000 of which were cancer cells. She does not recommend treatment.
“Acute lymphocytic leukemia is treated with the same protocol as lymphoma, but only ~25% of cats obtain remission. For those that obtain remission, the average length is 7 mo.” The Merck Veterinary Manual.
We just have a few weeks, if that, left with our kitty. She’s six years old and looks at least twice that. Her muscles have wasted away all over – behind her eyes, along her spine, even on her nose. A friend who hadn’t seen her in a couple of weeks was shocked at her appearance. But she’s still lying here at my side, one paw stretched out to touch me as she sleeps. I’m really going to miss her.
Quick note to say that Icey is hanging in there. The vet was more optimistic about her PCV last week (18%), and in fact thought she was doing well enough to start treatment (Atopica, a.k.a. cyclosporine) to knock down her immune system, which will keep it from attacking her bone marrow. That might giver her a chance to regenerate marrow and blood cells. As with our dog, a relapse could come at any time, so we’re treating each day as a gift. So she’s taking 6 different pills every day, and every day I get more ventilated, but that’s okay! 🙂
On the other hand, Max ended up getting up getting some sort of stomach ailment and had to spend the night on an IV at the vet getting meds and fluids. Another $700 dollars, kasplat. He had a little relapse yesterday but not as bad. What the hell did I do to anger the cat gods?
I spent a long day at the vet office today. It’s a specialty hospital, meaning the regular cases don’t normally go there, only the stuff that everyday vets can’t treat. Icey’s condition – aplastic anemia – certainly qualifies.
I didn’t have a good feeling going in. Icey felt feverish and she was lethargic. In the carrier she was hiding, when normally she would be wanting to see out. Maybe that’s why, despite repeating “1:30” to myself all morning as a reminder of the appointment time, I ended up thinking at the last minute that the appointment was for 2. I ended up getting there at 1:45 – not really late, huh?
But I waited a long time. And waited some more, my dread building. I knew the test results were going to suck. When I brought her home on Monday, her PCV (packed cell volume) was 25% (normal is at least 35%) and had been stable overnight. I thought to myself, as long as it was over 20%, things would be okay. Deep down, I didn’t think it would be.
A woman came in, holding her limp Shih-Tzu. Screaming that it was an emergency. They rushed the dog to the back. The woman was in hysterics, sobbing, stomping her feet, begging her son over the phone not to tell her husband. She’d left the dog outside in the sun in the 100+ degree heat for almost an hour, and it had heatstroke. I was still waiting to see the doctor, over an hour past the original appointment time.
They walked out a yellow lab, his front legs shaved where they had had IVs and blood drawn, his side shaved where there was a wound. What a similarity there was to Cuervo, when he was sick and got attacked by a deer. The vet spoke with the dog’s owner in a hushed voice in the corner of the room. The woman quietly cried. My head pounded. Someone was calling my name, once, twice. Finally I heard. It was the doctor.
She took Icey back to draw blood. I waited again. I was getting good at this, the waiting. The sick, sour feeling in my stomach almost felt normal. I didn’t think it would take this long for a simple blood draw. Managed to play a game on my phone. Did a couple of laps around the room. Developed supernatural hearing skills to listen for steps coming down the hall. The doctor was quiet, but I heard her before she opened the door. “I can’t get any blood out of your cat,” she told me. Icey was fighting them at every turn, biting and scratching. Totally uncharacteristic of her. She was running a fever. The best thing to do would be to put her in a tank with gas for sedation. While they were at it, they could do the bone marrow aspiration we thought about doing over the weekend and get an IV catheter ready in case she needed another blood transfusion. Transfusion number three. I agreed. Left her there.
The call came when I was playing Guitar Hero with my daughter. Two different doctors tried six times to get bone marrow. She had no marrow to get. Her body had attacked it all, killed it all. Her PCV was down to 14%. Her chance of survival, even with several weeks of very aggressive treatment, is under 15%. The vet was very sorry.
They’re doing one last transfusion so Icey will feel better for a little while, and I’ll bring her home tomorrow. When she starts to feel bad again, it will be time to end her suffering.
The worst part is that I feel like I could have avoided all this if I had done more research about pet vaccination. Why didn’t I, after my dog died? The study is right there. Why do we only do one round of shots for our kids, but we vaccinate pets yearly? Studies have shown that pet vaccinations last for years. I thought that Icey just had a little granuloma from her Rabies vaccination, but that was the herald of something horrible for her and for my family. Not to mention the cost – well over $3000 so far (and over $5000 for Cuervo’s treatment).
Fighting the system in place that declares yearly vaccinations to be right and necessary is David vs. Goliath. So I’ll just comfort my kids and my other kitty and when Icey is gone, miss that funny cat who would always try to clean up messes and who would jump on the bed every night with a happy chirp.